Whichever candidate wins, accept the election results

Accepting election results (based on fair practices) is a cornerstone of democracy.

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The time-honored tradition of voting has a long history of successes and failures.

Jackson Nealis, Staff Writer

The United States is having an election tomorrow. For over 230 years, Americans have voted for their leaders during wars, economic depressions, civil unrest, and now even during a pandemic. This election is different though.

Increasing civil and politically charged violence, accusations of voter fraud, and general distrust of the election process are increasing, placing the idea of a peaceful transfer of power in jeopardy. No matter the rhetoric, no matter the violence, no matter what the most radical voices on either side of the aisle will tell you, it is important that if all the ballots are counted, and if there is no evidence of fraud, we must accept the results of the election.

The idea that Americans should accept election results might seem simple; it might even be obvious, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the country may not accept the results peacefully.  As a result, and after speaking with Falcons and faculty on both sides of the aisle about their views, I commit to accepting the results of the election.

Once all the ballots are counted, and once it can be assured there was no widespread fraud, I will accept the election results, and I hope you will too.

Elections are never truly decided on election night. No results are final until the states certify them (and even then, the president is only truly elected until the Electoral College votes on December 14).  Also, depending on the state, there can be different rules for how mail-in and early votes can be counted and when. Some of these states may be the states most likely to be contested.

Based on when the votes are counted, there may be shifts towards candidates whose supporters used one form of voting over another. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean the election is fraudulent or rigged. It just means democracy takes time and care to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. The result will take time and patience. But we need to give the American people the patience they deserve to make sure their voices are heard.

Voter fraud is a powerful buzzword in our political vocabulary. It may sound believable that voters that aren’t in a booth on Election Day can easily cheat our system by voting multiple times or other methods of fraud, but the numbers don’t support that. From 2000 to 2014, there were 31 cases of voter fraud, out of 1 billion votes cast.

The ceiling for voter fraud, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, is 0.0025% and it’s much lower than that in reality. Voter fraud is not widespread nor impactful enough to sway the results of the election. The idea of voter fraud changing the voice of the people is absurd and the continuation of that myth is dangerous.

Just like COVID, civic and political violence is becoming an epidemic in America. Political candidates are being harassed, cities and businesses are boarding up in fear riots, and a large fence has been placed around the White House in preparation for serious unrest.

All of this is not normal. The peaceful transition of power has been crucial to the survival of what it has means to be the United States.

People want to know that they can participate in the democratic experiment without fear of their safety. Americans trust their institutions and by rejecting the ability of states to count their ballots, one of the major vehicles of democracy (a trusted election process), falls.

But accepting the results and committing to a peaceful transition of power, without violence, will prevent America from becoming a country where political might makes right.

America isn’t perfect. Our democracy fails many where they need it the most. But tonight and in the coming days, we need it to work. We need to let the ballots be counted, all of them, even if they aren’t counted until after Election Day.

We need to resist the urge to use voter fraud as an excuse for our candidate’s defeat. And most importantly, we need to accept the results without violence, committing to a peaceful transition, so our democracy can work one more time. Elections and politicians come and go, but our precious democracy should be protected. Accept the election results. That is what we owe to our country.

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